A new one-hour documentary followed the lives of eight drivers over six months using in-car cameras and tracking technology to monitor their driving behavior and capture how often and why their attention was directed away from the task of driving.
The film, “3 Seconds Behind the Wheel,” is named for how long it typically takes to drive across a football field, send a message or choose a song as well as the amount of time many drivers are engaged in distracted activities that can impact their ability to drive safely.
“While many of these drivers’ habits will shock you,” Jennifer Boyd, executive producer, director and writer of “3 Seconds Behind the Wheel,” said in a statement. “This is a very honest and intimate look at human nature.”
The producers gathered, observed and examined data from subjects in Florida and Connecticut. Study participants ranged in age from 18 to 65 years old.
“One of the amazing things about the study is to be able to take that camera that they quickly forget about and be in a private space that is typically reserved for just the driver,” Eric Jackson, director of the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center at the University of Connecticut, said in a statement. “You get to observe a lot of these things that are going on, that we all do. But you don’t think about it until you start watching the videos and realize…I do that.”
The film also highlights some emerging technologies that aim to improve road safety, including research being done at Google to help develop next-generation in-car infotainment systems, and the work of a company in Sweden that is developing technology “that could one day allow cars to understand our feelings and make driving decisions based on our own individual needs.”
The filmmakers also produced a nine-episode podcast, “Behind 3 Seconds Behind the Wheel.” The series provides a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the documentary, bonus segments, statistics and interviews with people featured in the film.
The film was produced by Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) in partnership with Boyd Productions. Experts from MIT, Cambridge Mobile Telematics, Safety Track and the University of Connecticut assisted by providing monitoring equipment, data storage, analysis and advice.
“We don’t have a distraction epidemic; we really have an attention epidemic,” noted Bryan Reimer, a research scientist at MIT. “We really need to begin asking the question: What is the distraction? Could it be that the act of driving has become the distraction from the communication and infotainment world that we all live in?”
The film is set to premiere on public television stations beginning October 1, 2018. (Check local PBS stations’ websites for air dates and times.)
To view the trailer and for more information about the film and podcast series, click here.